New Iraqi Government Re-Opens Radical Shiite Newspaper

Remember last March when TChris wrote about Paul Bremer's announcement that the U.S. was shutting down the radical Shiite al-Hawza newspaper because it increased the threat of violence against the occupying forces? Well, the new Iraqi Government has announced al-Hawza will resume publication.

Prime Minister Iyad Allawi on Sunday ordered the reopening of a radical Shiite newspaper closed by United States soldiers nearly four months ago. The closing was a catalyst for some of the worst anti-American mayhem of the occupation. Dr. Allawi's decree concerning the newspaper, Al Hawza, was a pointedly conciliatory gesture to Moktada al-Sadr, the rebel Shiite cleric whose associates run the newspaper. The decree came on the same day as Dr. Allawi approved an American airstrike meant to pound another branch of insurgent fighters, in the city of Falluja, a center for attacks on American and Iraqi forces here.

What is the import?

Together, Dr. Allawi's two actions seemed early evidence of his stated strategy for taming the deadly insurgency by making concessions to fighters who cooperate and cracking down on those who do not.

Dr. Allawi says it's simply a matter of honoring the freedom of the press.

The closing of the paper incited strong protests by thousands of Iraqis who accused the United States of hypocrisy for silencing dissent in the name of promoting democracy in Iraq. The protests widened into an armed Shiite uprising led by Mr. Sadr in several southern Shiite cities.

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